A solo piano recital and two chamber music concerts highlight a trilogy of classical music events presented by The Musical Arts Society of New Orleans, New Orleans Friends of Music and Musaica between Saturday, April 7 and April 17.

Musical Arts Society of New Orleans

“The Golden Age of French Music”

Saturday (April 7)

French pianist Philippe Bianconi performs a solo recital of the works of six renowned French composers from the 19th and early 20th centuries at the Esplanade Studios.

Bianconi will play compositions by Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel. The first half of the program will feature a Chopin prelude, a waltz and his popular “Barcarolle” opus 60. Also in the first half are three preludes each by Debussy and Messiaen.

A common thread connects all six composers, according to Bianconi. “It’s a thread of influence,” he explained. “Chopin was a big influence on all of them. Chopin’s work was very important for Debussy’s piano music. And then, much later, Messiaen’s two favorite composers for the piano were Chopin and Debussy.”

The second half will feature works by Saint-Saëns, Fauré and Ravel. “What’s interesting here is that Saint-Saëns was the teacher of Fauré and Fauré was the teacher of Ravel,” Bianconi said. “So we have this continuity between these three composers. Some of their harmonies are very closely related.”

Following the concert, there will be a French-themed reception of wine and hors d’oeuvres catered by Boucherie, the proceeds of which will benefit MASNO programs, including the New Orleans International Piano Competition.

New Orleans Friends of Music

Miro String Quartet with Steve Cohen, clarinet

Monday (April 9)

New Orleans Friends of Music wraps up its 63rd season with the returns of the Miro String Quartet and former Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra principal clarinetist Steve Cohen. They are performing a Haydn string quartet, a Brahms clarinet quintet and a piece by contemporary composer Kevin Puts.

The concert is in Roussel Hall, Loyola University.

The Miro Quartet, consisting of Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer on violins, John Largess on viola and Joshua Gindele on cello, was formed in 1995. Cohen joined the now-defunct New Orleans Symphony in 1975 and was principal clarinetist with them and the LPO until 2004 when he joined the music faculty at Northwestern University.

“These are two of the most important and most beautiful works for this combination of instruments, and they were written toward the end of each of the composers’ lives,” Cohen said. “I don’t get to play with a quartet as wonderful as the Miro Quartet very often, so it’s a real thrill to play with them and come back to New Orleans after having lived there for 30 years.”

The Miro Quartet will also be performing at The Three Keys in the Ace Hotel New Orleans, 600 Carondelet St., on April 7 at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Musaica Chamber Ensemble

“Music at Home”

April 16-17

Musaica concludes its season with concerts at Munholland Methodist Church in Metairie on April 16 and St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church the following night.

Titled “Music at Home,” the concerts will feature original works by two local composers, including a world premiere by Tucker Fuller.

Musaica bassist Dave Anderson will perform his original duet, “Sonata for Bass and Harp,” with his wife and fellow ensemble member, harpist Cathy Anderson. There will also be a rarely performed Beethoven string quartet.

Fuller’s 12-minute piece, “Ephemera,” is a string sextet consisting of two violins, two violas, cello and bass. It is one movement with three sections at various tempos.

The inspiration for the piece and its title, Fuller explained, “relates to things that we enjoy only for a short amount of time. But I was thinking more along the lines of how ephemera relates to our personal lives through other people we know.

“All of our human relationships are ephemeral because of death,” Fuller continued. “Those who are left behind are piecing these things together through memories, and so it becomes ephemera. The music works in that same way. There are textures that hint at melodic lines but they never quite develop into melodic lines. That’s kind of the way life is as well.”

****************
 
“The Golden Age of French Music”

WHAT: Recital by pianist Philippe Bianconi of works by French composers presented by the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Esplanade Studios, 2540 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans

TICKETS: $75 (including concert and post-concert reception)

INFO: (504) 899-4826. masno.org

Miro String Quartet with Steve Cohen, clarinet

WHAT: Performance by the Miro String Quartet featuring Steve Cohen on clarinet and presented by New Orleans Friends of Music

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 9

WHERE: Roussel Hall, Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans

TICKETS: $18-$35

INFO: (504) 895-0690. friendsofmusic.org

“Music at Home”

WHAT: Performance by the Musaica Chamber Ensemble

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. April 16, Munholland Methodist Church, 1201 Metairie Road, Metairie and 7:30 p.m. April 17, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1545 State St. (at St. Charles Avenue), New Orleans

TICKETS: donation $10 adults, $5 students and seniors.

INFO: (504) 304-8608. musaica.org